As a girl, I enjoyed comics and that love followed me up through Archie to Wonder Woman to Cerebus and graphic novels. One of my favorite epics of all time is Bone by Jeff Smith; but, on the whole, I can’t say I’m a connoisseur or even a true fan. I just like them.
Which explains how I have missed the great renaissance of erotic graphic stories (I call them “graphicals”) online. The best I’ve found is just on chapter two, and is fairly new, but is delightful and incredibly beautiful to read: Teahouse by emirain (who is, actually, two fairly well known yaoi artists with strong followings on y-gallery.net). It is billed as a yaoi comic, and I suppose (from what I know) it fits the description well. I’m not much of yaoi follower, as I tend to like reading, seeing and writing about men who are over 30, nor do I find most yaoi tropes that appealing. Of course I make exceptions, and Teahouse is the best reason why exceptions should be made.
First, it is gorgeous. I find most manga very flat (cute, but flat) but Teahouse is visually lush and interesting. Second, the characters might read as broad clichés but in fact have intriguing personalities that break out of the moulds of their various “types”. The story is still in the young stage, so many characters are not very well developed yet, but based on what I’ve read so far I believe they will be. (I don’t give that trust to story tellers too often, another reason I miss out on new graphicals because I usually refuse to read them until the story is fully completed.) The characters all have the classic feminine lines of most manga (even the most dominant and masculine characters make Orlando Bloom look rugged) so if that is a turn off for you, chances are you won’t like Teahouse.
The set up is simple: set in a undefined place and time that looks vaguely like Europe in the early-mid 1800s, the story centers on the denizens of a high-end pansexual brothel run by a Xanthe Atros. The relationships of Xanthe’s various courtesans and clients is a veritable soap opera, but emirain has steered clear of purposeless melodrama and instead focuses on the more interesting by-plays of characters with a long history.
Erotically speaking, the story is less a “pornographic graphical with a plot” and more an interesting story with some very suggestive scenes. There might be more explicit sex later in the series, but personally I’m fine either way. I’m just really enjoying the art, and the characters, and the story, and I hope Teahouse keeps running for a long, long time. I highly recommend it!